Some of the best things to see and do in Cheriton
- Credit: Archant
From award-winning beer to revolutionary battles, this village has many a tale to share
Tiny it may be but Cheriton has got its own bakery school, South Downs Sourdough, specialising in - you've guessed it - teaching pupils how to make their own loaves of this popular bread. Based at Brick House in the village, they'll teach you all the skills you need to bake this often tricky recipe.
Situated in the village's east, Cheriton House is noted for its historic garden, where, it is alleged, the head gardener during the 1920s would count everything growing, just to make sure the employees did not help themselves! During the 19th century the house's owners were keen supporters of the local hunt. The story goes that the reason all the bridges in Cheriton are painted white was because the lady owner at the time didn't want people to miss their way home when returning from a day's hunting.
The vines were only planted in 2011. But, since then, Raimes English Sparkling, to the north of the parish near Hinton Ampner, has produced what it describes as 'elegant sparkling wines that capture the beauty of our little pocket of England'. Its wines are single estate and limited edition and you can buy them and see how they are produced on one of the official tours.
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The church of St Michael and All Angels dates from the medieval era. But that's not what truly makes it special. It contains within it a deeply poignant memorial in stained glass to the four nephews of Mrs Mary Augusta Phipps Egerton, who were killed in battle in World War I. Each window depicts one of the knightly virtues of Duty, Loyalty, Honour and Courage, and a likeness of the young man it represents. The memorials contain badges from their schools and regiments as well as scenes from Arthurian legends and the Bible.
What a find!
Imagine the excitement! Finding six or seven hundred silver coins, buried in a field. That's what happened just over the parish boundary in the Church Lytton field at Beauworth in 1833 when the coinage, from the time of William the Conqueror, was discovered in a 'curious leaden box'. The hoard didn't stay around for long, though, and can now be seen in the British Museum.
Brought to book
Cobbett's famous Rural Rides, published serially in the 1820s, mentions Cheriton fondly as 'a little hard iron village where all seems to be as old as the hills that surround it'. It was, he declared: "At the present day one of the best cared for and most progressive villages in the district."
A potted history
Seven miles to the east of Winchester in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Cheriton - the name means 'church village' - has been described as looking like something out of Midsomer Murders. Groups of pleasant houses cluster round a village green bounded by tributaries of the River Itchen, which rises nearby. Cheriton earned its living from watercress production (now gone) and truffle hunting (ditto) and was said to be the last place in England where this activity took place. Cheriton's first public telephone arrived in 1922, three years later the buses, then electricity in 1935. And even that was quicker than the arrival, in 1951, of mains water.
Things to do
Walking, of course! The parish is criss-crossed with paths to take you to the headwaters of the River Itchen or up towards Beauworth and its ancient Milbarrows burial grounds. Take a little time, too, to visit nearby Hinton Ampner and its grounds. The village itself is bursting with entertainment, from the Cheriton Singers to the cricket club, tennis courts and a thriving village hall which offers many clubs and activities. There are open garden events during the summer and the extremely popular Cheriton Sessions, gigs which raise funds for the village hall and frequently get sold out well before the popular performances.
Marking a major turning point in the English Civil War and therefore our parliamentary democracy, which resulted in a victory that helped shape the future of England, The Battle of Cheriton was fought on 29 March, 1644 near Cheriton Wood. Its impact was described thus: "It broke all the measures and altered the whole scheme of the king's counsels." After facing several horse charges, the broken royalists and their leader, Hopton, limped back to Reading. Now the National Trust, which owns nearby Hinton Ampner house, has devised a local trail for walkers to follow in the footsteps of this crucial battle.
Food and drink
The delightfully named Flower Pots Inn on Brandy Mount was a micro-brewery before anyone had even heard of the term. Based in a barn, near the pub, the beers include Four Candles and Flower Pots bitters. Alongside its award-winning ales, The Flower Pots was Southern Hampshire Camra's Pub of the Year 2015 and brewer of Camra Hampshire Beer of the Year 2013, 2014 and 2015. The food is locally sourced, classic pub grub. The Hinton Arms on Petersfield Road also serves good ales, and traditional food. And don't forget that the Café on the Green is at the village hall every Thursday from 9am-12 noon, serving coffee, tea, chocolate, toast and cakes galore.
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